I’ve been learning how to draw for a little over two years. Some months I may draw everyday for an hour, other months I may draw or paint only a couple of times. I am still learning, and am still very much in the student phase of the process. There have some been some resources I’ve come across that really simplified drawing for me, gave me some tools to work with, and articulated the process particularly well.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.
This is a great starter book. There is a lot of philosophy about right brain thinking versus left brain thinking. I believe there is some merit to the philosophy, but she does seem to spend a great deal of time backing and reiterating her thesis. If you can work through that (or around it, if you prefer) the exercises in this book are amazingly rewarding. Learning how to “see” what you’re looking at, instead of the symbolism your very helpful brain gives you, is a needed skill. This book gives invaluable lessons about measuring, and works wonders boosting your confidence — helping you to realize drawing is a trainable skill and can be learned. It isn’t merely for the “creative” and “artistically gifted.” It can be taught, and you can learn with practice! You can preview the book and see if you like it by downloading the PDF for free here.
The Artist’s Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective On the Classical Tradition by Anthony Ryder.
If you want to learn how to draw the figure classically, or even just basic tools of drawing, this book is very informative. Written in an encouraging, articulate way, this author will get you wanting to draw in no time. Reading this after Betty Edwards’ book really made things fall into place for me. This is really an expansion on skills taught in Betty Edwards’ book, with a focus on additional measuring methods. If you want to learn classical techniques, be encouraged, and see some beautiful artwork, this is a must-read.
The Figure in Motion: A Visual Reference for the Artist by Thomas Easley, Mark Smith.
This is a reference book for the artist. Filled with black-and-white photos of male and female models posing in an array of positions. If you want to spend some time brushing up on your figure drawing skills, or do some life drawing-like work from home, this is a nice complete set of pictures. I use it often, and try the same pictures but with different drawing approaches. Clear images, tasteful models, and poses that you could easily use as a reference to incorporate into your own personal work.